Woodland Valley Creek

Woodland Valley Creek

Although offi­cial­ly named Wood­land Creek, this stream is local­ly referred to as Wood­land Val­ley Creek. Run­ning along Wood­land Val­ley Road, the Wood­land Val­ley Creek flows through an area with a wealth of nat­ur­al resources, recre­ation­al activ­i­ties, and brim­ming with local his­to­ry. Eas­i­ly acces­si­ble fish­ing access sites, prim­i­tive and car camp­ing loca­tions, and numer­ous trail­heads make this one of the most pop­u­lar recre­ation­al areas in the entire Ashokan Watershed.

Set­tled since the ear­ly 1800s, Wood­land Val­ley, for­mer­ly known as Sny­der Hol­low, host­ed a large tan­nery (Sny­der tan­nery) and two chan­nel-span­ning sawmills dur­ing the lat­ter half of the 1800’s when this water­shed was exten­sive­ly logged.  Dur­ing the hey­day of the tan­nery indus­try, hun­dreds of peo­ple occu­pied this val­ley seek­ing to extract a sub­stance known as tan­nin from the bark of the abun­dant hem­lock trees in the area. Tan­nin is an inte­gral com­pound in the process of tan­ning leather prod­ucts and was a huge indus­try in the area dur­ing the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies. A num­ber of roads used by the hem­lock har­vesters (called bark peel­ers) can still be seen today and some of these “bark roads” have been repur­posed as hik­ing trails.  Fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the tan­ning indus­try, Wood­land Val­ley host­ed pop­u­lar late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry resorts (Rox­moor and Lord’s).  Post­cards from that time show a bucol­ic, “man­i­cured” val­ley that has since recov­ered its nat­ur­al wild state.

Wood­land Val­ley Creek is 7.5 miles in length with a drainage area of approx­i­mate­ly 20.5 miles. The head­wa­ters of the stream begin along the steep slopes of some of the tallest moun­tains in the Catskills includ­ing: Slide, Wit­ten­burg, Pan­ther, and Cor­nell moun­tains. Wood­land Val­ley Creek joins the Eso­pus Creek near the bridge at Herd­man Road. This con­flu­ence is a pop­u­lar loca­tion for fish­ing, kayak­ing and swim­ming. Some of the larg­er and more notable trib­u­taries to Wood­land Val­ley Creek include: Daugh­er­ty Brook, Cross Moun­tain Hol­low Brook, Pan­ther Kill and Mud­dy Brook. It is also home to the Wood­land Val­ley Camp­ground (one of the old­est pub­lic camp­grounds in New York State) and many acres of State For­est Pre­serve land with plen­ti­ful oppor­tu­ni­ties to hike, fish, hunt, and camp as well as just enjoy­ing the great outdoors.

Wood­land Val­ley water­shed is a typ­i­cal Catskill Moun­tain water­shed in a geo­log­i­cal­ly unique set­ting.  Wood­land Creek and the reach­es of Eso­pus Creek above Phoeni­cia, inscribe a cir­cle around the base of Pan­ther Moun­tain.  The water­shed con­tains steep moun­tain drainages with fast, boul­der-filled runs and mod­er­ate­ly mean­der­ing rif­fles and pools, ric­o­chet­ing across val­ley walls and devel­oped land. A sig­nif­i­cant amount of Town infra­struc­ture is locat­ed in the Wood­land Val­ley and Wood­land Creek was the sec­ond high­est con­trib­u­tor of sus­pend­ed sed­i­ment load among all trib­u­taries to the Eso­pus Creek from 2010–2011.

From 2009–2010, the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram worked with the Town of Shan­dak­en on a large stream­bank sta­bi­liza­tion project on Wood­land Val­ley Creek just below Fawn Hill Bridge. The Town of Shan­dak­en was con­cerned about Wood­land Val­ley Road wash­ing out, with the poten­tial to cut off access to 100 res­i­dents. This project demon­strates a 152-ft stacked rock wall pinned to the under­ly­ing bedrock, and state of the art bio-engi­neer­ing on the hill slope above the wall.  The site with­stood floods in 2010 and the del­uges of Trop­i­cal Storms Irene and Lee in 2011.

Ulster Coun­ty Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict staff com­plet­ed a two-year assess­ment of the Wood­land Val­ley Creek in 2007–2008. The stream was reassessed in 2015.

A full report on Wood­land Creek con­di­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions is now available:

Wood­land Creek Stream Man­age­ment Plan

Map of Woodland Valley

Click to view larg­er image.